This morning I spent some time with Jesus, thinking about that final walk before he died… the road from Pilate’s court to Golgotha. In the Bible, it is recounted in a single line of text:
Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull. John 19:17
But there is more to it than that. And it’s nothing like the way it was taught to me when I was young. It was far more painful, on so many levels.
This morning I felt the physical pain. The crown of thorns, penetrating the head, a head that had not slept now for over 36 hours. Blood mixing with sweat. The back – skin torn from its own flesh – burning. The knees, aching. The feet, scarred. And then there was the cross. Heavy on its own right, but heavier still for the true burden it bore. Crushing down upon His shoulders. Pulling him down. How easy it would have been to crumble. To end it right there. But He persevered.
The morning I felt the emotional pain. Just days earlier the crowds had cheered Him, but now they mocked Him and laughed. What exactly had Christ done to turn these people against Him? Why did they hate him so? But the sharper pain came not from who was there—but from who wasn’t. His twelve. His chosen. His brothers. If the roles were reversed, would not Jesus be the first one at their sides? And yet, in His time of greatest need, those closest to him simply abandoned Him.
This morning I felt the spiritual pain. Compared to this, the beating he had taken from the Romans, the abandonment of His friends, were nothing. It would be a few more hours before Jesus spoke the words, Eli Eli lama sabachthani?, but on this walk… this walk from Pilate’s court to Golgotha, He knew He was alone. Alone. Alone.
I am not sure that this is what happened, but it is what I felt. All I know for sure is, Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull.